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Hasidic college district says NY Instances on a ‘mission’ to focus on Orthodox Jews with reporting, not journalism

Over the previous a number of months, The New York Instances has printed investigative tales specializing in Hasidic faculties in New York which have been derided by critics together with the Anti-Defamation League, who say the reviews are fueling antisemitism as reported crimes in opposition to the Jewish individuals proceed hovering.  

The Instances printed one more report on Feb. 20, this one specializing in Kiryas Joel Union Free Faculty District positioned within the village of Kiryas Joel roughly 50 miles north of Manhattan. The neighborhood is made of virtually fully Hasidic Jews and the varsity district was established particularly for youngsters with disabilities. 

The report, titled “How Public Cash Goes to Assist a Hasidic Village’s Personal Faculties,” urged that the taxpayer-funded college district was misappropriating its spending, which is already underneath a bureaucratic microscope by the state. 

“I acquired the vibe that he was despatched on a mission, and that mission was to not current a good image of the neighborhood or of the varsity district,” Joel Petlin mentioned about Instances investigative reporter Jay Root. “I spent actually hours and hours with the reporter explaining issues, discussing points, reviewing materials, explaining how issues work. And he actually got here to the desk with a bias as a result of he is an investigative journalist with actually zero expertise with training points, with federal grant points, with any protection of faculties, something concerning the Jewish neighborhood… He got here with an task, and that task was to seek out no matter monetary grime he may on the varsity district.”

“And I do not consider that he uncovered something that is stunning. I imply, all of our transactions are aboveboard. All the things that we do is reviewed by the state. We have now auditors which can be continually reviewing our program and reviewing our monetary issues,” Petlin added. 

The New York Times has been under fire in recent months for a series of reports targeting Hasidic schools deemed by critics as fueling antisemitism.

The New York Instances has been underneath fireplace in latest months for a collection of reviews focusing on Hasidic faculties deemed by critics as fueling antisemitism. (DON EMMERT/AFP through Getty Pictures)

Petlin, the superintendent of the college district, acknowledged one audit from 2009, which was highlighted within the Instances report, after two members of its college board voted to spend tax cash on a 30-year contract lease of a constructing from a personal Jewish training group quite than pay for brand spanking new development. These two board members are additionally on the board of that personal group. Nevertheless, he burdened “that is 14 years in the past.”

Following the Instances’ first reporting on Hasidic faculties in September 2022, a challenge known as KnowUs from Agudath Israel of America was launched to fight the paper’s portrayal of the Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. Its web site blares a banner that there have been “12 New York Instances articles in opposition to Orthodox Jews in 3 months.”


In a press launch following the story’s publishing, KnowUs slammed the now “18th article and counting” from the Instances since September, calling it “prejudicial” and “appears decided to discover a scandal” with no smoking gun.

“Is it nefarious and even stunning that when in search of to lease specialised college area, the district would achieve this from the nonprofit that provides the vast majority of it within the district, and ‘offers education for many of the kids in Kiryas Joel?’ Furthermore, ominous innuendo however, is it scandalous that the district repaired the heating, air flow, and air con (HVAC) system within the facility through which kids with particular training wants have been studying?” KnowUs requested. “The Instances appears offended by the very notion of doing enterprise with Hasidic Jews… The New York Instances portrays Hasidic Jews as ultra-religious, self-dealing caricatures, as black and white as the standard garb they put on.”  

The Instances seems to have gone all-in on its rising subject of reporting that the paper created its personal “Highlight” webpage that archives the collection of articles. 

“It isn’t journalism, but it surely’s good for enterprise,” Petlin mentioned. “They take away the paywall and the article they printed to get extra pleasure about it. A few of the articles, they really translate into Yiddish to attempt to get extra individuals to learn them from throughout the neighborhood. It is a mission. It is nicely past balanced journalism.” 

The New York Time dedicated a "Spotlight" page entirely to its reporting about Hasidic schools in New York. 

The New York Time devoted a “Highlight” web page fully to its reporting about Hasidic faculties in New York.  (Screenshot/

Petlin drew consideration to the Instances’ tip line that was posted final fall after it printed its first report on Hasidic faculties, interesting to readers, “We wish to speak to former college students, in addition to mother and father, lecturers and particular training suppliers and others with experiences with training in Orthodox and Hasidic faculties in addition to the Kiryas Joel public college district.” The paper is not accepting suggestions. 

“There’s 700 college districts in New York State. And I’ve by no means seen The New York Instances solicit for- clearly all of the hateful feedback, solely issues, you already know, within the negative- for every other college district however this one, the Kiryas Joel college district, realizing who we’re and what we do,” Petlin mentioned. 

Petlin advised Fox Information Digital that one of many college’s speech therapists requested him if she may attain out to the Instances to defend the varsity district. He gave her the inexperienced mild. 


In mid-November, Rochel Berman, a 25-year veteran on the Kiryas Joel college district, despatched the next message to the Instances, which was shared with Fox Information Digital:

“I’m a Speech therapist offering providers within the Kiryas Joel UFSD.  I can emphatically state that the Particular Schooling system in Kiryas Joel is superb.  The kids are all educated to one of the best of their skills and are supplied with glorious therapies together with Speech Remedy, Bodily Remedy, Occupational Remedy and Psychological Remedy. The care and concern for every baby is inspiring and the employees usually goes out of their means to assist every baby and supply the absolute best providers. The varsity administration is all the time in search of methods to assist the kids progress and they’re prepared to implement any program, comparable to ABA providers, Imaginative and prescient Remedy, Coaching in Actions of Each day Dwelling and others that may profit the kids. I’ve been a Speech Therapist for 39 years and I’ve labored in quite a lot of faculties together with faculties in NYC, on Staten Island, in New Metropolis NY and in New Jersey. I’ve been working within the KIryas Joel college for the previous 25 years and might truthfully state that they supply the very best high quality stage of service that I’ve seen. I’m proud to be part of their system.”

A number of days later, she was contacted by Root, who authored the story on Kiryas Joel. 

“He requested me very main questions,” Berman advised Fox Information Digital in an interview. “He had an agenda. He stored saying, ‘I do know they train faith within the college.’ I stored saying, ‘I by no means noticed them train faith.’ He mentioned, ‘I do know they train faith. I have been advised they train faith.’ And I defined to him… our complete district is particular training. Our youngsters vary in age from three years to 21, they usually operate in age from three months to perhaps six mentally. So we’re not instructing three-month-olds, four-month-olds, six month- they’re very severely handicapped kids. If they’ll in any respect operate, they go to their common faculties. These are very severely handicapped kids.” 


Berman burdened that Root wasn’t nasty of their discussions however described him as being “persistently biased.”

“He stored going again to the faith and he stored going again to what individuals have been being paid and who these individuals have been,” Berman mentioned. “He simply could not share something good. And I advised him, ‘You sound like a pleasant man, however you are listening with a biased ear. Perhaps you get it out of your workplace. I do not know the place you get it from, however you are not listening to something that I am saying that is good. You simply hold asking me questions on issues I’ve already answered… There is a bias there.’ So he mentioned, I do not perceive. There’s completely no bias on the Instances.’ So I mentioned, ‘Pay attention, you are not listening to me… I am telling you these items, and also you’re simply ignoring what I am telling you.’ So we had conversations like that.” 

Berman advised Fox Information Digital she spoke with Root on three separate events and their conversations ranged between 20-Half-hour. Nothing she advised him made it to print. 

Kiryas Joel school district was the subject of an investigative piece by The New York Times suggesting misappropriation of taxpayer funds.

Kiryas Joel college district was the topic of an investigative piece by The New York Instances suggesting misappropriation of taxpayer funds. (Courtesy of Joel Petlin)

The article drew concentrate on the son of the varsity board president who the Instances reported “earns $178,000 a yr as a ‘instructor aide/E.M.T.,'” portray a picture of impropriety. Whereas Petlin advised the paper that the wage was justified on account of extra duties he performs, Berman attested to Fox Information Digital that the aide “actually works 24/7” and spoke about him to the Instances reporter. 

“We name him on a regular basis,” Berman mentioned of the varsity aide. “He visits each college on daily basis. Each guardian calls him once they need assistance. He is an incredible one who will get issues accomplished.” 

Berman alleged that Root was “very upset” at how the colleges separated women and men, which is culturally regular within the Hasidic neighborhood and advised him “in the event that they have been Muslims and Muslims additionally do not combine, you would not write about that.” That criticism Root expressed wasn’t talked about within the last report. 

“It didn’t make the story because- we have been speaking about that and we have been speaking concerning the faith being taught within the college. After which on the final dialog, he mentioned to me, ‘I discovered a unique observe to work on. I am not engaged on these tracks anymore.’ I mentioned, OK. And clearly the observe was a monetary observe, in order that was our final contact,” Berman mentioned. 

Root didn’t reply to Fox Information’ request for remark. 


Petlin in contrast the Instances story to the paper operating a narrative about him operating a purple mild primarily based off of a photograph from a road digital camera however omitting {that a} police officer was standing within the intersection waving him by way of as a result of the visitors mild was damaged. 

“I should not have to elucidate my reply, as a result of it ought to be a non-story. However they made a narrative out of one thing that isn’t a narrative,” Petlin mentioned. “They usually, you already know, they’re harping on a few of the battle of curiosity points as a result of they they they appear horny, however. They’ve recused themselves once they have been presupposed to.” 

“There’s clearly an obsession… They actually made a narrative out of nothing that I consider is simply an try and embarrass the neighborhood,” he added. 

Joel Petlin, the superintendent of Kiryas Joel Union Free School District, slammed The New York Times' reporting on his schools during an interview with Fox News Digital. 

Joel Petlin, the superintendent of Kiryas Joel Union Free Faculty District, slammed The New York Instances’ reporting on his faculties throughout an interview with Fox Information Digital.  (Courtesy of Joel Petlin)

When requested whether or not The New York Instances was participating in antisemitism with its reporting regardless of having quite a few Jewish staffers on its payroll, each Berman and Petlin view the paper is focusing on essentially the most non secular Jews. 

“Hasidic Jews stick out. Like they stick out by way of Jews,” Berman advised Fox Information Digital. “You may meet many Jewish individuals and never know they’re Jewish… in order that they bear the brunt of antisemitism. Like Israel bears the brunt of antisemitism. They stand out as Jews… These Jews usually are not a part of their tradition. They’re completely different. They do not like completely different Jews.” 


None of them are Hasidic. None of them are orthodox. None of them dwell within the communities. None of them current the way in which that Orthodox or Hasidic Jews do. The violence that is occurring to distinctively showing Jewish individuals in Brooklyn just isn’t occurring to the Brians and the Elizas,” Petlin equally expressed about Instances staffers, particularly referring to reporters Brian Rosenthal and Eliza Shapiro who authored earlier reviews about Hasidic faculties.

A spokesperson for The New York Instances advised Fox Information Digital, “We’re assured within the accuracy of our reporting, which was complete and exhaustive, and stand behind its publication unreservedly. Our reporters collect information with sensitivity and care, and the criticism leveled right here is inaccurate.”

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